Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The future is plural

Contrary to Cameron's Munich (slightly unfortunate choice of venue) speech - I'd have to suggest that multiculturalism is actually easier in practice  than it looks on paper.

Sometimes it's difficult to take on board that the Tory-boy lives in the same city as I do:  Any time spent  in  an inner city would reveal that multiculturalism is simply the default setting for ordinary people going about the daily business of making lives for themselves and their families. Sometimes there are tensions, often there are misunderstandings, but on street level it works because it has to. 

Just on my own street Polish shops sit cheek by jowl with Kurdish shops. My daughters' anglo-french-jewish-hungarian heritage is probably the least exotic and most ethnically homogeneous of their circle of friends.  Nobody I know even  notices or cares.

So what is the alternative Cameron proposes - monoculturalism ? 

He hankers after a state-defined set of national values taught in schools and  measured by a citizenship test. Examples of country's with such imposed artificial constructs  being the USA and France -  both far less integrated societies in practice than the UK  and with ethnically defined ghettos in their cities the  like of which simply don't exist over here.

Or maybe he just wants to sentimentalise some  non-diverse national heartland - like the parts of this country that are still demographically homogenous. I grew up in one of these  - the London suburbs of  thirty years ago. 'British' values - specifically the values of the affluent working class and the lower middle class  - ruled the roost without challenge - mowed lawns, washed cars, pubs and Sunday roasts.  It was fucking tedious and depressing...fortunately it is dying a natural death.


Anonymous said...

It seems that the government and people who read the Daily Mail want to go back to some idealized version of the 1950s. The idea fills me with dread: women having to give up their jobs when they got married; no access to abortion; young women having to give up their babies if they were born `out of wedlock'; curtain-twitching at anyone out of the `ordinary'; petty-mindedness . . . . Unfortunately some people are trying to turn the clock back - wanting an educated elite, with everyone else staying in their place - we have to fight that all the way.

Anonymous said...

You can already see the risk of time spinning backwards at my daughters' school. New proposals to promote the English Bacc put inner city comprehensive schools in a difficult situation - do they, for the golden goose of the league tables, force kids who would much rather study sociology, textiles, drama, dance, music, to do history, geography and languages? Or do they let pupils take the subjects they really enjoy and run the risk of falling behind in the league tables? It's a brave school that will ignore the tables . . . Yet what if they ignore the English Bacc and find that their kids are then excluded from top universities?